St. Benedict’s Catholic High School has recently been granted funds from the Cumbria Coastal Community Forest Trees for Climate Fund, which has enabled staff and pupils to plant over 2000 trees around the outskirts of the Campus Whitehaven grounds.

When the Campus Whitehaven facility was first constructed, a large area of trees had to be cut down. As a result, there are very few mature trees around the dual-school site. Some trees were planted in early 2022, but much land remains available for further planting.

The site is near the coast and feels exposed, planting exposure tolerant species such as sycamore on the fringes should help shelter the other trees. Species planted are those suitable for wetter ground, including Downy Birch, Sycamore, Aspen, Black Poplar, Grey Alder, Shining Gum, Rowan and Goat Willow.

Angus Walsh from Cumbria Woodlands helped facilitate the planting said:

“Planting trees provides a number of great benefits, including increased biodiversity, shelter, shade, allowing more water to infiltrate, amenity value, as well as sequestering carbon for the long term.”

“ Most importantly on this site, organising tree planting days allowed the pupils a chance to get inspired about nature and showcase forestry as a potential career choice.” 

To give the young trees, the best chance of success, they were planted before the end of April – this gave St Benedict’s about seven days to get them in the ground. Nevertheless, staff and students did not disappoint and were exceptional in their work ethic to get the mix of young deciduous trees in the ground.

Mrs Lee, Geography teacher at St Benedict’s said:

“We’re excited that this project is now nearly completed. Our aim is to create a woodland area that allows our students to have access to a range of activities. From fieldwork in Geography lessons and experiments in Science to Outdoor learning through forest school activities and eco-therapy, where appropriate”.

As part of this work in the outdoors, St Benedict’s have also benefitted from funding for an Octagonal Shelter, with solid sides, seats and decking. This is to ensure sessions can continue in the outdoors, whatever the West Cumbrian weather throws at us!